OB-GYNs Say No Prescription Should Be Needed To Get The Pill | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

OB-GYNs Say No Prescription Should Be Needed To Get The Pill

The time has come for the pill to be available over-the-counter, the nation's leading group of obstetricians and gynecologists says.

Why? "There's a 50 percent unintended pregnancy rate in the U.S., which is extremely high for a resource-rich country," says Dr. James T. Breeden, president of the American Congress of Obstetrician and Gynecologists. Easier access to oral contraceptives could go a long way to bringing that number down, he tells Shots.

The argument for the switch was just published in an ACOG policy statement. But don't expect to see the pill next to acetaminophen or cough syrup on drugstore shelves anytime soon.

The Food and Drug Administration would have to agree that the benefits to women outweigh the risks from taking the pill without a health professional's guidance.

The feds have approved switches for some allergy pills, heartburn medicines and even allowed nonprescription sales of the emergency contraceptive Plan B to adults. But the FDA has rejected the switch of some common cholesterol drugs called statins to OTC sale.

The clearest path to nonprescription status the pill would be for a drugmaker to push the case with the agency. ACOG would support a move like that, Breeden says, but it's not the group's place to lead the commercial charge.

What are the risks? The biggest worry is blood clots. They're rare, but the risk rises for women who smoke or are over 35. Uncontrolled high blood pressure would also boost the risk for trouble. But, Breeden says, "It is much worse to have a women who is hypertensive be pregnant that to be on birth control pills."

It's also possible that women would skip some visits to their doctors.

Other over-the-counter medicines also carry risks, though. Aspirin can lead to serious bleeding problems, and overdoses of acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) are a leading cause of liver failure.

Breeden is confident women could adequately screen themselves before deciding to start oral contraceptives. They might even do a better job than doctors at that, he says.

"All in all, it would be a major benefit" for women to be able to buy the pill prescription free, he says.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Not My Job: We Ask 'Real Housewives' Producer Andy Cohen About House Flies

Andy Cohen is host of Watch What Happens Live and also the Bravo producer responsible for the Real Housewives franchise. He'll play a game called "Bzzz ... bzzz ... bzzz."
NPR

Need A New Sweet Potato Recipe For Your Thanksgiving Table? Try Gnocchi

Because some cooks like to mix it up for Thanksgiving, we offer a Found Recipe from our archives: Julia Della Croce's purple sweet potato gnocchi.
NPR

In Las Vegas, Obama Sells His Immigration Plan

President Obama has begun to try to sell the American public on his controversial executive action on immigration. He started Friday, with a visit to Del Sol High School in Las Vegas.
NPR

Terrible Video Game, Great Fundraiser: Meet Desert Bus For Hope

Desert Bus, a parody game invented by magicians Penn and Teller, consists of driving a bus on a featureless road for hours. A comedy troupe in Canada has turned that monotony into money for charity.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.